Richard Tulloch Playwriting Workshop

We bring you this brilliant report from Yvonne Mes, author of soon to be released, Meet Sidney Nolan, published by Random House Australia.

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In this session, Richard gave a fascinating insight into an extensive career as a playwright for television and theatre.

After a false start in law, Richard turned to education and soon created drama exercises for young children which later evolved to longer, more structured plays for older children. Later he worked in television including writing over a 100 episodes for Bananas in Pyjamas and his many adaptations from novels to plays such as Hating Alison Ashley by Robin Klein, The Book of Everything by Guus Kuijer and various Treehouse Storey books by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton.

Richard talked about the Cricket Bat Speech by Tom Stoppart in the play The Real Thing as an example that shows that no matter how good the story, it is all about the craft.

The process from workshopping to finished play can take a year and involve many rewrites, sometimes changing up to 25% of the original draft. Sometimes authors are involved in the playwriting process as with Andy Griffiths and other times there is no contact with the author such as with Dutch writer Guus Kuijer until much later. Richard talked about his successful collaborations with Kim Carpenter’s Theatre of Image.

There were many questions from the workshop participants which led to discussion around choice of story, how technology is changing the dynamics of theatre and possible implications for writing plays and which books are good choices to adapt for the stage;

  • has to be about people and involve good drama
  • has a good sense of place
  • have opportunity for dialogue (avoid books where there is a lot of internal dialogue)

At the end of the extended workshop Richard signed the squidgy chest of either B1 or B2 of Bananas in Pyjamas fame which had snuck into one of the participants’ bag.

RICHARD TULLOCH has written over sixty children’s books and numerous scripts for children’s TV series, including Playschool, Hoopla Doopla! and the famous Bananas in Pyjamas. He’s also written many plays for young audiences, among them Year 9 Are Animals and stage adaptations of Robin Klein’s Hating Alison Ashley, Guus Kuijer’s The Book of Everything and Andy Griffiths’ and Terry Denton’s The 13-Storey Treehouse series. Richard lives with his wife in Sydney and spends part of each year based in his home town of Amsterdam.

Yvonne Mes, Author of Meet Sidney Nolan and Oliver’s Grumbles



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